Second-round 69 sees Harrington in good shape at The Open

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By Simon Lewis, St Andrews

Padraig Harrington kept his hopes of a third Open Championship title alive today as he moved up the leaderboard with a second-round 69 at the Old Course.

Having been prepared for some awful weather coinciding with his early tee time, Harrington embraced the three-hour rain delay at St Andrews with open arms, getting an extra 90 minutes’ sleep in a Tour van by the practice range before teeing off in much calmer, dryer weather.

Starting his round at level-par following an opening 72, the three-time Major winner did not take immediate advantage and he even dropped a shot at the second after missing a short par putt.

But the Irishman grew in confidence as the round progressed, aided by the good form of playing partner Marc Warren, whose own 69 moved him into contention on seven-under-par.

Harrington carded four birdies, three of them over the final six holes and including a birdie three at the last, although another one went begging at the par-four 17th after some excellent approach play on the Old Course’s most difficult hole.

“Most of the day I was struggling and I was one over par and not thinking that much was happening, I just didn’t hit my wedges close on the front nine,” he said.

“We did get a good break with the weather today – a big break. Not alone did we not have to go out in the storm this morning, but when we played the front nine we played it nearly straight downwind every hole and then the wind changed a little when we came around that turn there.

“So the back nine, we didn’t end up playing it into the wind, we just played in a crosswind. So we definitely got a good break there.”

Despite moving to within six shots of the 36-hole clubhouse lead, held by Danny Willett at nine-under par, Harrington downplayed hopes he could be in line for a repeat of his 2007 and 2008 Open successes at Carnoustie and Birkdale, not least with 18-hole leader Dustin Johnson due out on this evening and unlikely to complete his delayed second round until Saturday morning.

“That wind is definitely the easier wind on the golf course so I see people still moving forward this afternoon.

“I played every shot as hard as I could, it would have been nice to hole the putt on 17 for birdie but 69 is a decent return.

“I’m six behind at the moment? I can’t see it being only six at the end of the day but if it wasn’t too far off it, you never know tomorrow, you could get a decent draw again and you could make some ground up.”